Today through the kindness of Doris Blackburn/ Karen Black Chenier from Carleton Place and Lucy Poaps of Almonte I was given more personal historical mementos to document. As some have reminded me,“No one has asked you to do this” and even though I get upset when I hear these words, it’s true. In all honesty I don’t feel trapped doing what I do, as history has basically trapped me–but in a very good way.
It’s no secret that I am caring for a family member that is slowly losing her memory. I don’t like to use the words Dementia and Alzheimers, but watching this horrible disease on a daily basis feels like I am riding the biggest emotional roller coaster there is. Having lost all my family members to cancer I know how to be a cancer caregiver with my eyes closed, but it’s different for memory loss. I have had to finally realize that my mother-in- law is not giving me a hard time– she is the one that is having a hard time. This past year has not been easy for either of us understanding this degenerative condition for which there is no cure.
Today Karen gave me some of her mothers things to go through and Lucy lent me her scrapbooks that she has kept up all these years. Both these elderly women are also losing thoughts and memories, and these things were important to them. In turn, they also became very important to me the minute they put them into my hands to document what they have saved through the years.
Yes, this disease causes loss of memory, but these ladies still have stories to tell and they need to be listened too and remembered. At 67 I too have trouble remembering small things and have to use Google sometimes. It’s one thing to know what a computer key is, but what happens when I don’t know what the key does anymore.
It isn’t easy learning to stop being angry at my mother-in- law’s frustrations. So instead of giving her a hard time for the paranoia and memory loss, I finally had to enter her reality and realize that I too was an unsuspecting bystander. Sometimes I feel like a victim and carry a deep sadness within me that I can’t change how she is–and it’s hard, it’s so very hard.
I’m sure that she has felt my anger, frustration and confusion for months, and these days instead of complaining I try to understand what feeling lost really feels like. When I opened one of Lucy’s scrapbooks this afternoon the words: “You simply can’t shut your eyes” popped out at me. All these ladies want is normality–they just want their memories back. So, I continue to document for when no one can remember what happened on the long and winding road of life. As Oscar Wilde once said: “Memory is the diary we all carry within us.”
On a local note: “The last time I saw neighbour, councilman and Hall of Valour curator Ron Roe he had lost most of his memory. He was at the senior home behind FreshCo. I gave him a hug and said I was so glad to see him. He got out of his wheelchair and shook my hand and said: “I can’t remember who you are– but thank you for remembering me”
So we must remember..
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun Screamin’ Mamas (USA) and The Sherbrooke Record